Facing substantial development pressures in the next several decades, Granville-area officials are looking for tools beyond existing planning and zoning regulations to manage growth in the best interests of the community.

One of those tools is the creation of a community improvement corporation by the Village of Granville, Granville Township, Granville schools and the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Granville Village Council approved a proposal on Wednesday, March 20, to create a corporation similar to those in other Ohio communities. Worthington, for example, established a Community Improvement Corporation for that Columbus suburb in 2006. And both Grow Licking County and Newark Development Partners are community improvement corporations for the county and city.

The proposal approved by the Granville council describes it as a two-year pilot program for the Granville area. Such community improvement corporations typically allow an appointed board to borrow and lend money for economic development projects, acquire and sell property, and lead strategic plans for the community.

The nonprofit community improvement corporation would not require a financial commitment from the four entities, according to the proposal. Funding would be the responsibility of its board of directors.

The corporation board would be made up of at least one area resident nominated by each of the four entities, and at least one at-large member chosen by the initial board of directors. The board would develop a coordinated approach to managing economic development within the village, township and school district as development pressure builds with the rapid growth in western Licking County moving east from New Albany.

The council approved a document called a “memorandum of understanding,” which is a non-binding agreement between the village, township, school district and chamber outlining how they will work together to create the corporation to facilitate development in the best interests of the community.

Three of the four local entities have approved the plan. Granville Township Trustees have not taken up the matter yet. That board meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, at the Township Service Complex, 1554 Columbus Road, and could discuss it then.

The next steps in the formation of the corporation is for the four entities to come up with a name for the corporation, decide on the number of members of its board, draft articles of incorporation and recruit and appoint board members.

“There are 500-plus existing community improvement corporations in Ohio,” said Steve Matheny, executive director of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, who noted that much study had gone into developing the proposal.

“This isn’t random,” Matheny said. “We’ve had nearly two years of research and studies that have gone into this program for economic development.”

Bryn Du barn restoration                                                   

The Bryn Du Mansion property is a community-owned site for recreational, arts and cultural activities, and community events. Credit: Alan Miller

The village council approved a resolution to allow for the restoration, renovation and repurposing of a 115-year-old barn at the Bryn Du Mansion.

The barn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bryn Du estate.

The renovated space will include creation of a first-floor museum space related to Bryn Du and the Licking County Community Center for adults 60 and older, restrooms that will be open to the outside to support cultural performances at an existing outdoor stage and recreational facilities.

The second floor of the barn, which will be renovated in a future phase, will have a raised stage for community cultural activities, such as musical performances, lectures, readings and other gatherings. An elevator and exterior ramp will be included to make it accessible for all.

The resolution allows Village Manager Herb Koehler to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a grant of $171,500 toward the project.

Credit: Denison University via Village of Granville

Denison housing development

An architect’s rendering filed by Denison University with its final plan shows the proposed design for faculty and staff housing the university wants to build just northwest of the Denison campus. Credit: Denison University via Village of Granville

The council heard the first reading of an ordinance to approve the preliminary and final plans by Denison University to develop housing for faculty and staff on about 31 acres at 340 New Burg Street, across from the Granville High School football and baseball fields.

The university plans construction of up to 70 housing units in phases, starting with about 30 single-family apartments in the first phase.

A public hearing on the plans will be held during the next village council meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3.

Brin Glass writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism Program, which is funded in part by the Mellon Foundation. thereportingproject@denison.edu